Adeptus Astra Telepathica
"Mistakes into miracles."
- – Smarmy Christian saying
The Adeptus Astra Telepathica is one of the most important organisations within the Imperium of Man. They are responsible for the training of nearly all psykers. Because of their expertise, they often work alongside the Imperial Navy and the Inquisition. Because of the importance of their organisation (the Imperium would most certainly fall without them), the Adeptus Astra Telepathica has a permanent seat on the High Lords of Terra.
The League of Blackships is the fleet of the Adeptus. It is the second-largest fleet of the whole Imperium (the first being, with all the metal and grimdark, the Imperial Navy). Duty requires these ships to continuously visit every world in the Imperium every century or so to gather the tithes of Psykers of the worlds they visit. They are equipped with psi-shielded cargo holds that prevent their cargo's escape, at the cost of being very traumatizing to both the cargo itself and the crew, so only the strongest of minds can crew these vessels. In addition to anti-psyker shields and Blanks (including the occassional Sisters of Silence not engaged in the Webway), Blackships are intentionally fitted with sleep-deprivation mechanisms including light strobes in the cells, nigh-nonstop chanting hymns, etc. to further secure their cargo. Grimdark.
It should be noted that these vessels are not to be confused with the Inquisitorial Black Ships, special Strike Cruisers that are, as the name suggests, completely black and lightless and serve as an intimidating extension of the Inquisitor's (and by extent, the Emperor's) will.
When the Blackships drop collected psykers off, they are sorted by power and insanity: the least useful get a one-way trip to the Golden Throne, where their souls are burned up to keep the Emprah from dying. Those powerful but weak-willed are indoctrinated into believing in their own martyrdom and then thrown inside the Hollow Mountain, where they're going to chant in a giant psychic chorus, while their souls are slowly and painfully drained from them to fuel the Astronomican. The ones which are better able to keep their powers under control are sent to the Scholastia Psykana for training. Young children are a favorite because they are the easiest to train and indoctrinate. After five years of basic training (given they survive, of course) these candidates are evaluated. A vast majority of them become Astropaths, while others (depending on potential, dedication, intellect and physical abilities) can become Sanctioned Psykers or Inquisitors, and the truly remarkable might become a Librarian of the Space Marines or even be inducted into the Grey Knights.
These ships are so important they get three navigator houses to themselves, the Ptolemy, Granicus and MacPherson.
Astropaths are the internet servers of the Imperium, and probably the most common type of psyker in the Imperium. They can psychically send information across vast distances to other astropaths. This is the only way the many worlds of the Imperium can stay in contact with each other. However, at longer distances it becomes nearly impossible for astropaths to communicate with each other. To solve this problem, many astropaths can link their minds together to form an Astropathic Choir. Using their combined psychic might, a choir of astropaths can send an inquisitor's hate mail across vast distances, ensuring that the condemnation of heretics goes on. When stuff gets a bit intense, their heads can literally explode, and much worse. In some facilities they go nowhere without an official called a "vitifier" following them with a bolt pistol.
To reduce but not eliminate these sorts of unfortunate events (heads blowing up being somewhat of a meme or repeated cliche in 40k novels to indicate that really hardcore warp fuckery is going on), Astropaths are brought before the Emperor 100 at a time to engage in a ritual called Soul Binding to help protect them from daemons and perils of the warp. They all kneel before the Emperor who proceeds to reshape their very minds so they become true Astropaths. This ritual goes on for several hours during which the Astropaths experience... something, some liken it to their brains getting electrified, whilst others think they speak to the Emperor.
Those who survive with their sanity intact are then inducted into the order of the purple robes, unfortunately the process tends to obliterate the sensory nerves of most astropaths, so the overwhelming majority end up being blind for the rest of their lives. Not all of them do though, but some may have other problems as well, such as deafness or lack of tactile senses... pretty much it depends on your luck. As the problem lies in their nervous system, rather than eyes (ears, skin, etc.) it cannot be fixed with a standard augmetic surgery, and the kind of augmetics that DO work are outrageously expensive even by the Inquisition/Rogue Trader standards.
That being said some extremely wealthy Rogue Trader houses consider installing bionic eyes and nerves into their lead Astropaths (or even entire astropathic choirs in some cases) as a powerful show of wealth, influence, and Mechanicum connections. Sighted Astropath brought to a Rogue Trader meeting is a political version of a tactical nuke.
Usually being blind is not that much of a hindrance for a psyker, as their psychic senses usually step up and provide them the ability to "see" just as well as normal people. This is described quite effectively in Damnation of Pythos where the ship's astropath explained that it wasn't actually like "sight" but more their intuition informing them of what they need to know. Another interesting description of how astropaths perceive the world can be found in Blind, which is a murder mystery set entirely on a astropathic relay station populated with astropaths running all gamuts of power and skill levels. Though this blindsight does not allow them to see Blanks or Untouchables, or into the area of psy-void that they generate. Nor does it allow them to see through solid objects.
But to get back to their communication abilities; at short distances (say, in a star system) astropaths appear to be able to converse clearly and instantaneously with one another. Between nearby star systems, astropaths must prepare themselves with the material and then enter a trance to transmit it, while astropaths at the destination wait in trance to receive messages. Over greater distances, a larger number of astropaths may be required, and the message may have to be cut down to fit in the old twitter limit. In addition, the further a message travels in the warp, the more the warp will begin to affect both the contents of the message and its travel through the warp. Aside from blanks, two phenomena are known to interfere (to varying degrees) with astropathic abilities, those being the warp shadow of a Tyranid fleet and an activated geller field; both of these greatly attenuate an astropath's connection to the warp.
Despite what is commonly believed, the role of Astropath is not always relegated to the those of weaker ability.
There ARE very powerful Astropaths abound in the Imperium and usually find work either as the sole Astropath upon starships that travel alone in the Imperium, the head of psychic choirs, or as advisors to planetary governors or important Imperial commanders.
While ostensibly their duties remain as glorified psychic telephones, because their power is increased they generally have equivalent or longer ranges than choirs of lesser Astropaths.
Not only that, but they can branch into psychic disciplines other than Telepathy, but because of their specialised nature they don't get access to the full range of abilities a Sanctioned/Primaris Psyker would, however due to the nature of their Soul-Binding they do get access to powers unique to themselves:
- Theosophamy - pretty much a form of Sanctic Daemonology, though because they are Soul-Bound, the Astropath can use their link to the Emperor to add Holy effects to their psychic powers.
- Soul Ward - undoubtedly another Sanctic sub-discipline, more focused on protection and enhancement than Theosophamy.
- Void Frost - a unique discipline that manipulates those spaces devoid of the Astronomican's warmth. Probably resulting in some more followers of Chaos.
Beyond all of this, Astropaths Transcendent can use their powers in more unique fashions as well. Because their psychic range is determined in hundreds of thousands, (if not billions) of kilometres rather than metres or kilometres as per regular Sanctioned/Primaris Psykers. they can find use in ship-to-ship combat, being able to control the minds of enemy crews using Telepathy powers, or even setting enemy vessels on FIRE THROUGH enemy shields and hull plating using a form of Telekinesis, making them far more useful than simple messengers. Likely especially against Eldar and maybe Orks given both species rely on technologies which depend entirely on the warp.
Currently only mentioned in Roleplay as an option for Astropaths Transcendent, but it makes sense that they would/could exist everywhere.
As mentioned, some Astropaths experience different sensations during the Soul Binding ritual, to the point that some of them think they have a divine revelation and end up spending the rest of their life in prayer, singing praises to the Emperor and displaying their blindness as some sort of holy stigmata. They then take on self-appointed roles similar to priests to "further His will" or convert additional believers.
The problem is that the Ecclesiarchy takes a bit of an awkward stance with regards to these individuals, considering them to be borderline heretics and attribute their religious experience to be the delusions of a mad witch. The problem being that Astropaths are some of the few people ever afforded the privilege of entering the Emperor's Throne room, which the Ecclesiarchy are NOT allowed to do, so who's to say they are wrong? Additionally, these Initiates are just so useful by giving priority to religious matters and generally being helpful to the Ecclesiarchy that to get rid of them would be more costly than it's worth. Not to mention Astropaths have a piece of the Emperor in them, so if they say they've had a divine revelation from it, the Ecclesiarchy cannot afford to refute it as it would piss off a lot of their followers. Everyone knows the close connection between the Emperor and Astropaths, after all. Not that that stops many people from fearing and shunning them. The smarter cardinals and priests instead make it a sort of Oracle of Delphi situation, where they keep exclusive access to the Astropath and give out "prophecies" from the Emperor that "came from the mouth of his blessed servant". On top of it, almost free personal psychic email and if sufficiently powerful a way to mindslap foes from existence, so a good deal overall.
During the second battle of Fecundia in the Damocles Gulf, it was discovered that astropaths could be used to disrupt the coordination of a hive fleet by transmitting the psychic signals of a rival hive fleet. Of course, for this trick to work you also need to have some chunks of still alive and kicking rival hive fleet brain handy, which for very obvious reasons severely limits its application. That said, according to Amberley Vail the Imperium is still looking into refining this; testament to how fucking scary Tyranids are.
|Forces of the Inquisition|
|Command:||Inquisitor (Ordo Malleus Inquisitor - Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor |
Ordo Xenos Inquisitor)
|Retinue:||Acolyte - Arco-flagellant - Astropath - Banisher - Cherubim |
Chiurgeon - Crusaders - Daemonhost - Death Cult Assassin
Jokaero - Hierophant - Mystic - Sanctioned Psyker
Sage (Autosavant - Lexmechanic - Sister Dialogous)
Servo-skull - Servitor - Sister Hospitaler - Pariah - Penitent
Ministorum Priest - Militarum Veteran Squad - Warp-Seer
|Auxiliaries:||Inquisitorial Stormtroopers - Deathwatch - Grey Knights |
Sisters of Battle - Callidus Assassin - Culexus Assassin
Eversor Assassin - Vindicare Assassin
|Vehicles:||Chimera - Land Raider (Land Raider Crusader |
Land Raider Redeemer) - Razorback - Rhino
|Spacecraft:||Aquila Lander - Inquisitorial Black Ship|